“You have got to be blowing (virtual) smoke up my a**!” Was probably the first reaction most had upon hearing of electronic cigarettes. Expecting them to be a joke or a fad was also probably a common belief when they first gained notoriety. But the truth is, electronic cigarettes are worthy of thoughtful consideration by any smoker. They are a healthier alternative and reduce the risk of complications to the smoker and the public.
Thinking a bit more about electronic cigarettes led to the realization this technology may combat nicotine addiction. Nicotine is recognized as one of the most addictive substances and yet remains a popular though less socially acceptable vice than alcohol and most legal drugs, legal or illegal. Links between smoking and lung cancer, cardiovascular disease and pulmonary disease are increasingly recognized. Cigarette smoking remains the leading cause of preventable disease and premature death. Recent research, including Dr. Neal Benowitz’ article in the New England Journal of Medicine (June 2010), reports that while 80% of cigarette smokers attempt to quit, only 3% are successful.
Sure enough, an electronic cigarette allows you to light up, literally, and still have something to pucker your lips around and exhale. Yet because you only inhale a small amount of vaporized nicotine, (insert your own Bill Clinton joke here if you wish!), it is much less dangerous. Even more importantly, no one can object to second hand smoke, because there is none with an e-cig. Although an electronic cigarette is not classified as a smoking cessation aid, various testimonials indicate its success in helping individuals quit this hard-to-break habit.
Socially, you appear to fit into the crowd as you also have a cigarette in your mouth or between your fingers. Although you do not get the physical warmth of the smoke on a cold day, with an electronic cigarette you get the same emotional rhythm of putting one to your mouth, inhaling and exhaling, and calming your nerves.
Of course, a person smoking an electronic cigarette will be even more socially intriguing. A blog described one person’s vacation in Cuba, a country famous for their cigars, and the appreciation for this new technology.
Electronic cigarettes can also be a financial saving. Though they range in price from $15-$200, most recommendations seem to suggest the $50-$75 range for a good mix of quality and affordability. Compare this to the current $20/pack and the government’s continually increasing tax on cigarettes, and one can see immediate and long-term financial savings to e-cigs.
Science is contained in the small tube of an electronic cigarette and it continues to develop. The “source” of the smoke is contained in a cartridge holding a liquid – a liquid that comes in an ever-increasing number of flavors users can select, ranging from classic American tobacco to spearmint, vanilla, and others. Upon inhaling, the small heating coil in the atomizer vaporizes the liquid. The electronic airflow sensor then activates the battery and signals the e-cig to “light up.” A lithium-ion rechargeable battery can be easily recharged in a regular AC power outlet, car charger socket or USB port, though many of the newest e-cig brands come in packages that resemble a traditional cigarette carton and include a portable charging case.
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Electronic Cigarettes: An Evolution in Smoking